I don't think you've mentioned which State you're in.
Here in Ontario, a person who is financially incapable can have their financial responsibility and authority removed, and assigned to a trustee. The trustee might be a responsible next of kin (as her ex, you would appear unsuitable: that being a potential conflict of interest); otherwise, it can be the Public Guardian and Trustee.
It that happens, then the trustee handles the money; and handles/makes any contracts on behalf of (in the name of) the incapable person.
The incapable person might have income (e.g. spousal support payments) and money (e.g. bank accounts), which the trustee can document in order to demonstrate credit-worthiness (or at least solvency).
For the time being, the kids see it as an adventure, but I suspect, it will get old very fast.
I hope you have a counsellor to talk with about your personal relationships (I've had or tried several and at least one has been extraordinarily helpful).
You're not actually expressing a worry about the children being abused or neglected. :/
Is your motive (for asking) that you want her to have a place, so that the children will like it (being there) better?
As long as your kids see it as an adventure, perhaps you can be happy for them.
Perhaps (I don't know: depending on the people) too it's a good (or at least a better) thing that they are visiting with friends and relatives; and, a better conversational topic with those people might be how they show your children a good time (instead of your ex's money).
One possible way I thought of co-signing is if a portion of child/spousal support goes directly to the landlord. I asked the Child Support Services (who deduct money from my paycheck monthly to pay support to my ex) and they told me that they are not authorized to do this.
Perhaps (I don't know) there is some way to do that, if you have your ex's cooperation and a lawyer (and perhaps a judge).
You haven't said what portions of your payments are for Child support, versus Spousal support (nor, who has custody, etc). If a large part of the support is for the children, then perhaps the children can rent the place. (/wild idea)
Note that, in Ontario, there are two trusteeship decisions to make: 1) financial; and 2) personal care, which includes housing and medical. Someone can retain their own 'self-care' authority even if they're judged financially incapable (or vice versa if there's a personal-care or medical decision which they cannot understand).
The technical language is,
"Mentally Incapable of Managing Property"
This term applies to a person who is unable to understand information that is relevant to
making a decision or is unable to appreciate the reasonably foreseeable consequences of a
decision or lack of decision about his or her property. Processes for certifying an
individual as being mentally incapable of managing property are prescribed in the SDA (Substitute Decisions Act), and in the Mental Health Act."
The Mental Heath Act is for medical emergencies (only); but Ontario has a Substitute Decisions Act as well.
An intent of the law is to protect vulnerable people.
People may also acquire and/or name their own trustee and/or guardian voluntarily: via a power of attorney, a living will, etc.
I don't know: how about offering the landlord a year's rent in advance, or in trust?
I guess that 1) a court order can determine/override/guarantee the way in which the child support payments are directed 2) it's easier to get that order/agreement if you and your ex cooperate 3) there are housing specialists in your neighborhood:
- social workers
- 'socialised' (I don't know what to call it: public or assisted or charitable or semi-medical or religious or community) housing
- and rental agents.
They can buy housing instead of renting it. Or be given (gifted) housing to live in.